New Galatasaray boss Mancini gets rough welcome to league in 2-1 loss

New Galatasaray boss Mancini gets rough welcome to league in 2-1 loss

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
New Galatasaray boss Mancini gets rough welcome to league in 2-1 loss

After suffering the first defeat of the season, Galatasaray remained on seven points, adrift of the leaders in 13th place. DHA photo

The heralding of a new – if unexpected – dawn at Galatasaray following the side’s road point against Juventus in the Champions League in Roberto Mancini’s first game in charge appears to have been premature, as the Lions failed to roar in a 2-1 defeat to Akhisar Belediye Gençlik this afternoon.

Rarely seen without his scarf during his ultimately unhappy Manchester City days, the ever-sartorially resplendent Mancini opted for a navy tie and suit for his Spor Toto Super League debut, but his exudence of personal cool was not matched by any similar syle and panache on the field, as his Galatasaray frequently underwhelmed against their Aegean opponents, who have been an early-season surprise. 

Akhisar may have had fears of retaining its top-flight status after talismanic Greek striker Theofanis Gekas moved to Konyaspor at the beginning of the season, but Oumar Niasse Baye did his best to make the home support forget the “Greek god’s” absence, tallying twice against his illustrious opponents. 

Niasse Baye, who took his goal tally to five, opened the scoring in the 34th minute when he brilliantly flicked on a corner over the head of a despairing Fernando Muslera. He doubled the advantage on the other side of the interval, taking a pass from just outside the area to beat the Uruguyan goalkeeper for the second time in just 23 minutes.

Akhisar was given reason to worry just 10 minutes later, as the legendary Didier Drogba stepped up to close the deficit to just one, threatening to stick a dagger into the hearts of the Aegean side’s fans once more, having previously made headlines in February when he scored against the club just four minutes into his debut. 

But while Drogba’s strike prompted cries of “Çare Drogba” (The solution is Drogba) – a phrase that was on prominent display on walls around Istanbul during the Gezi protests thanks to the view that the Ivorian can fix anything, no matter how broken – Akhisar weathered a late Galatasaray storm to ensure that even superhuman footballers cannot always secure victory through sheer willpower alone. 

For Akhisar, a team from one of Manisa’s northern districts that cannot even play its home matches at its own ground due to the stadium’s shortcomings, the match was another chance to prove the pundits wrong. The club was given little chance of surviving its first year in the top flight, but it defied expectations, especially after taking on Gekas during the winter break. Gekas single-handedly kept the team up last year, but his departure for Konyaspor at the start of this season prompted more talk of doom and gloom for the club.

Seven games into the new season, however, Akhisar now sits pretty in fourth place with 13 points, having already taken the scalp of Trabzonspor earlier in the season. Galatasaray meanwhile, remains on seven points, adrift of the leaders in 13th place. 

Elsewhere in day-time action today, Antalyaspor defeated Çaykur Rizespor 2-1.